Forgotten – F3 Cycle 47 – The City of Lost Children.

I’ve tried on many occasion to enter the F3 weekly challenge. Time, TFFO, and family are my usual hurdles BUT this weeks was a must.

Two great people, Fiona Johnson and Thomas Pluck are donating their own money to two great charities for every entry into this weeks challenge.

Fiona’s charity is CHILDREN 1ST, the Scottish society for the prevention of cruelty to children.

Thomas’s charity is PROTECT, the National Association to Protect Children.

I couldn’t take my story down the child abuse road so it went in a different direction that I hope still has an impact. It’s simply called…


Present Day – Manchester, England.

“Lunch time,” the nurse sang, her trolley rattling into the room.

There was no answer from the occupant. Elizabeth Reed sat silently and motionless, her teary eyes staring at a photograph.

The nurse turned to Elizabeth, the melody disappearing from her voice.

“Elizabeth, what’s the matter?”

No response.

“Oh, my darling, stop upsetting yourself. Come and eat some lunch. There’s a…”

Elizabeth didn’t hear. Her mind was elsewhere.

* * *

1975 – Manchester, England.

“Come on, Olivia, we’re going to miss the bus,” Elizabeth shouted, pulling on her coat.

Elizabeth turned at the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs.


“Oh, you look,” Elizabeth said, holding back a loving laugh, “You look gorgeous. You’re father would be so proud of you.”

“Thank you, mummy. Are we going now?”

“Yes, honey. We just need to stop at the bank and then we’ll get on our way.”

“OK, mummy.”

On the way to the bank, four year old Olivia asked her mummy the same thing. “Mummy, tell me about daddy.”

Elizabeth told her what a great man he was: how great a daddy he was. How he had wanted to stay with them forever, but God had needed him for a special job. She told Olivia how much her daddy loved her, and how he was watching over them both.

By the time they had reached the bank, the little girl had the biggest smile on her face, but Elizabeth had the biggest void in her heart.

“Ok, Olivia, push the door.”

They entered the bank, “Oh, it’s a bit busy, honey. We’ll have to queue though. We can’t get your new school shoes without any money can we?”

“New shoes, new shoes, I’m getting new shoes,” Olivia sang as they stood in the queue.

The line of customers was slow moving and there was a mumbling of annoyance amongst them. Elizabeth felt a pull on her coat.

“Mummy, I’m too warm. Can I wait outside?”

“Not on your own, honey. We won’t be much longer.”

“Oh pleeease, mummy.”

It was getting too warm and her daughter’s cheeks were getting red. “Stay right outside the door, right where I can see you, OK?”

“OK, mummy. I’ll stay right near the door.”

Elizabeth watched as the young girl pulled the glass door open and walked outside.

The queue moved a couple of paces, customers shuffled forward. Elizabeth moved with them, taking her eyes off the door for a few seconds. When she looked back, the child had gone. Her pulse quickened and her heart sank. She started walking to the door. A smiling Olivia appeared and waved to her mum.

“Next, please.”

The voice from behind the counter startled Elizabeth. She motioned to her daughter through the door and then turned to the cashier, passing her chequebook under the partition. The cashier tore out the cheque, stamped it and counted out the notes. Handing the money to Elizabeth, he told her to have a nice day.

“Thank you,” Elizabeth said, putting the money into her purse.

She turned form the counter and walked towards the door, her pulse racing again. Olivia wasn’t there. Elizabeth rushed to the door, pulling it open. She ran outside, looking up and down the street. Her heart was in her throat. There was no sign of her daughter.

“Olivia! Olivia!” she shouted, frantically walking up and down the street.

She stopped people, begging them to help her find her little girl: begging then to find the only family that she had. She shouted and screamed. She became hysterical. The police and ambulance were called when Elizabeth fainted.

* * *

Present Day – Sydney, Australia.

“Stacey, come on honey. Nana will be here in a few minutes.”

“Oh, five more minutes, mum. Pleeease.”


The child jumped over the small waves, giggling and screaming with delight.

“Yoohoo! Stacey.”

The girl spun round. “Nana Joan!”

The young girl ran to the old woman, hugging her tightly.

“Mum! You’re early. We were going to meet you at the café. You didn’t have to walk down here. Your legs…”

“Hush now, love. I wanted to watch Stacey playing. And please, stop fussing over me, Olivia.”


All comments appreciated.  

The image above is by a very talented lady called, Danielle Tunstall.  Give her a look on FaceBook.



Filed under david barber, david barber's fiction world, f3, fiona johnson, forgotten, thomas pluck

13 responses to “Forgotten – F3 Cycle 47 – The City of Lost Children.

  1. There are all kinds of lost children. Thank you for a powerful story of loss. This hits me pretty hard, as my sister & brother in law raised his nephew for 4 years, only to have the nutter grandmother take their adoptive son away to raise herself. So I haven't seen my "nephew" for years, and likely never will. He's one town away, but it might as well be Australia. Excellent writing as usual, David.

  2. Thanks, Tommy. Glad to "help" a couple of great charities. Hat off to You and Fiona!

  3. Thanks David, I like this story and it struck a chord with me. My heart has been in my mouth many a time when your child just vanishes from your view for a second; I recognised that feeling. Luckily mine always re-appeared!Well done and many, many thanks for your support.

  4. David – the parent in me is SO glad this story has the end that it did. You really kept me guessing. TP – So sorry for your loss. That's dreadful.

  5. Thanks, Fiona. Dare I say I enjoyed writing it? I've been there with my daughters "disappearing" for that split second but took that feeling further and out came Forgotten.Well done you two for doing this. Great people!

  6. Excellent story for an excellent cause. Great stuff.

  7. G

    A depressingly good story.

  8. Strong work, David. Last line's a zinger. Well done.

  9. Very poignant and a nice job, David.Best, Alan

  10. This story moved me.Thanks for your comment on my wordpress blog.I would like to invite you to The Rule of Three Blogfest —a month-long extravaganza in the fictional town of Renaissance this October, with some great prizes, comment love, and of course, a lot of exposure for your writing.Renaissance is open to all genres, so I'm sure your stories would be a great fit. Check it out 🙂

  11. Ben

    Very good story. I loved how it was dialogue-heavy so that you limited the exposition and let my mind run amok. It's the kind of stories I like best, when it leaves me the freedom to create my own visions before striking me down with the punchline. I gotta say this line: "By the time they had reached the bank, the little girl had the biggest smile on her face, but Elizabeth had the biggest void in her heart."…bothered me a little, because within the sructure of your story, I thought it felt emotionally rushed a little. But otherwise, great story, you can feel the growing emptiness in Elizabeth

  12. I love the extensive dialogue here… this is a story that really needs a 'voice'… you tell of a parent's worst nightmare with care and consideration. I like that I wasn't sure where the story was going until the last part.Well told… thank you for sharing!

  13. David,There will be no resolution for Elizabeth, sadly. You posted a wonderful story. Not all abductions have horrifying ends, and loss is only weighed by those who remember.How old was Miss Olivia in 1975?

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